Dealings with other statesmen and nasty neighbours – Netanyahu’s biography teaches us much about modern Israel’s recent history

Bibi, My Story

By Benjamin Netanyahu

Threshold, a division of Simon & Schuster

It is important for Christians, in these end days, to understand the Jewish people and the state of Israel and this autobiography of Israel’s longest serving prime minister will be on many people’s wish list, because it will teach you so much about events from Israel’s rebirth in 1948 till now.

“Sara guarded those private [Bible study] times with our boys as a lioness guards her cubs”

Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu, aka Bibi, Israel’s longest serving prime minister

Although 723 pages long, it is easy to read. Netanyahu’s nickname since childhood has been Bibi, hence the title. Just don’t expect anything negative written about Bibi and his achievements in his autobiography. Humility is not one of his attributes.

Really it is many stories in one book, beginning with how Bibi’s parents and grandparents pushed for the establishment of the state of Israel and were involved in its founding. Netanyahu writes about his army experiences and covers the tragic death of his brother Yoni, when Israeli commandos, including Bibi and Yoni, stormed a plane holding Jewish hostages in Entebbe, Uganda.

Then the book moves on to Bibi’s career, seeing him become Finance Minister, then Prime Minister.

Despite the pressures of being PM, Netanyahu tells us he studied the Torah portion with his son, Avner, every week until he was 12. He writes: “As war broke out, Sara (Bibi’s wife) would not let anything interfere with these sessions. She guarded those private times with our boys as a lioness guards her cubs”.

When re-elected Prime Minister in 2009, the family decided, like other Jewish families, that Friday night dinner together was sacrosanct, “a tradition we kept throughout my years in office”, he writes. Previous Israeli Prime Ministers had held a Bible Study group in the Prime Minister’s office and he continued the practice.

He describes the encouragement Christians gave him as he had difficult negotiations with the likes of Presidents Clinton and Obama.

Writing of the challenges of dealing with Israel’s Middle East neighbours, Netanyahu refers to an occasion when he was speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in 2009. It was soon after Iran’s then President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had declared the Holocaust was a lie.

As Netanyahu spoke, he held up a document from the official Wannsee Conference in which Nazi officials planned the final solution. “Is this a lie?” he asked. Producing the original building plans for Auschwitz, signed off by Hitler’s deputy, Heinrich Himmler, he asked, “Is this a lie too?”

He commended the delegates who had walked out on Ahmadinejad and attacked the delegates who stayed. “How could they not call him out on this monstrous lie? Have you no decency? Have you no shame?”

What makes the book so interesting are the anecdotes he shares of his meetings with world leaders

He tells us that to this day, Iran still holds an annual denial festival, and is dedicated to the extermination of the six million Jews who live in Israel.

What makes the book so interesting are the anecdotes he shares of his meetings with world leaders. When Margaret Thatcher attended a Knesset dinner in 1998, there was a long line of distinguished speakers for the dinner guests to listen to, before they could enjoy their meal.

At last Mrs Thatcher rose to speak. She said, “I have never lost an election and that is because I can read a crowd. This crowd (referring to the people attending the dinner) is hungry. As a woman and a mother I say, ‘Serve dinner’. She sat down and the people cheered.”

If you are like me, there will be much to cheer in this book!

Help for those who have been emotionally or sexually abused

When Church Hurts

By Colin A Mason

Maple Publishers

Pastor and counsellor Colin Mason
Pastor and counsellor Colin Mason writes from experience of parental and church abuse

How I long for the day when people don’t get hurt by church experiences and church leaders, but the problem does exist and is affecting many in the Church today.

Published in March 2023, ‘When Church Hurts’ comes from the first-hand experience of ordained pastor Colin Mason, who trained as a counsellor and has worked voluntarily with adult survivors of sexual abuse.

‘When Church Hurts’ will not be for everyone. But if you are someone who has suffered at the hands of church leaders, or you know of someone who has, I recommend this book to you. Helpfully, Colin Mason starts by taking us through what godly leadership should look like. He backs up everything he writes with Scripture. Then he contrasts it with ungodly leadership. I had not realised how much the Scriptures had to say on the subject.

In chapter four, titled ‘Twisted Scripture’, he writes: “A leader may either ignorantly misinterpret the Scripture because they do not have the correct understanding, or purposely use it to manipulate others for their personal agenda.”

From his counselling experience, he highlights specific Scriptures which are often ‘twisted’ to subjugate others, such as Philippians 2:12, Psalm 105:15, Numbers 12:1-11, and many more. He writes: “Twisting and manipulating the Scripture is not a new phenomenon but something that has happened over the centuries”. He shows how slave owners used the Scriptures to subdue slaves.

It might open the eyes of abused people to understand how they have been manipulated and used by church leaders

The next chapter highlights sexual exploitation by leaders, including Sunday school teachers, house group leaders, even choir directors. He examines the story of King David, considers the temptation, the lust, the sin, and the consequences.

He particularly draws out how sin by the leader is what God condemns, rather than the other person’s sin. He highlights how adults who have been sexually victimised by a beloved priest, pastor, minister, rabbi or other clergy will remain the “silent majority of clergy sexual abuse victims, suffering in their shame and self-isolation.”

Before Colin Mason finishes, he shares his own story. I won’t spoil the book by telling you what he wrote, but I sat with my mouth wide open as I read of his own experiences as a child and teenager.

This is one book that is so important for the Church today. There is no condemnation for the victims, but it might open the eyes of abused people to understand how they have been manipulated and used by church leaders. If you know someone who has suffered at the hands of church leaders, I encourage you to buy a copy and pass it on to them in love.

Challenges and encouragement for an ‘orphan’ generation

Discerning the Time

By Sarah Holloway
Provision Publishing

Sarah Holloway
Sarah Holloway explains how to hear God’s voice

When a book arrives and the author is unknown to me, I look to see who has written the foreword. In this instance it was written by Clive Urquhart, Senior Pastor of Kingdom Faith Church.

He says he has known Sarah for 35 years and, “At the heart of Sarah’s life has been a strong desire to know Jesus … to live out what she is spurring us on to live, through what she writes in these pages”.

Sarah gives us glimpses of her life: married for 30 years, she loves working with the teens and 20s. As a young believer who had joined a ministry full-time, she saw a powerful move of God with hundreds of predominantly young people committing their lives to Christ.

Sarah challenges Christians to let go of past traditions and discern the time we live in

Years later, she still dances, makes documentaries, is a film director, public speaker, coach, and more.

The book’s title is illustrated by an anecdote about EMI, formerly the fourth largest record label in the world. By 2012 it faced huge financial losses, and the business was sold for very little money. Why? EMI failed to recognise changes to the digital age. It was a gap taken by newcomers such as Spotify.

Sarah challenges Christians to let go of past traditions and discern the time we live in, “ … recognising where the wind of the Spirit is blowing”.

I am used to reading a book which has a beginning and an end, but here each of the 19 chapters is complete. With fancy, yet serious, titles such as ‘Money Mindset’, ‘The Joseph Years’, ‘Sign of the Times’, ‘He who has Ears’, the chapters challenge Christians to hear and know God’s voice, and then be ready to discern what God is saying in these times, so we can truly be his Church.

There is space on the pages to write what you sense the Holy Spirit is saying and add specific Bible verses you have been drawn to and prayers you want to say.

Gordon and Lorna Pettie
Gordon and Lorna Pettie

Take ‘The Orphan Spirit’ chapter. Sarah shares her personal journey of feeling abandoned as a child and brings out how Joseph in the Old Testament must have felt loneliness and rejection when his brothers sold him, and he ended up in prison.

She maintains that many in today’s Church today feel like orphans, starved of love, care and affection. “It is time to let those who are orphaned know that there is a worldwide family waiting to embrace them!”

As Sarah reminds us, Esther 4:14 says: “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Gordon, along with his wife Lorna, is part of the leadership team of Revelation TV, a 24/7 Christian television station that broadcasts in the UK on Sky 581 and Freesat TV 692, and throughout the world via the Roku Box and Apple TV. Gordon’s passion is writing and he is the author of eight books.

Gordon Pettie and his wife Lorna

Charles Gardner enjoys a romantic, biblically sound novel on his sickbed

The Lady’s Mine

By Francine Rivers


Confined to the spare bedroom while I dealt with Covid, my wife felt I should be entertained by Francine Rivers. The fact is, I’ve become a bit of an addict for her novels. Blame it on the feminine side of my nature.

But ‘The Lady’s Mine’ is more than a romantic novel. It tackles serious current issues such as homelessness and caring for the needy, especially orphans and widows. And, as usual, with a strong sense of biblical correctness.

Its heroine, Kathryn Walsh, single-handedly challenges the assumption that women can’t run newspapers

Set in a late 19th century mining town in northern California (where the author lives), this story will have you turning pages faster than you can blink an eye. Well, I got through its 450 pages in just over two days. Bear in mind that I’m a slow and deliberate reader, and wasn’t obviously feeling 100%.

All of which is great credit to this brilliant writer, who brings delightful humour, along with profound skill and depth of insight, into her many extraordinary characters and plots.

Francine Rivers demonstrates how just one person can make an amazing difference to a community, with God’s help and direction of course. And redemption is always on offer to whatever situation seems hopeless.

The plight of women – without votes or rights – is the key theme here. And its heroine, Kathryn Walsh, single-handedly challenges the assumption that women can’t run newspapers – or mines for that matter.

Delightful humour, along with profound skill and depth of insight

Though portrayed as the most beautiful young woman ever seen on the west side of the Rockies, and outnumbered multiple times over by the male species digging for precious metal, she is determined never to marry – because it would be relinquishing what few rights she has. But she is up against a very patient man – clearly the nicest saloon owner in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

For me, the story’s most intriguing and inspiring aspect was Kathryn’s feisty journalistic efforts. After resurrecting the newspaper founded by her late father, she uses it in the best possible way – to expose unrighteous work practices and encourage support for the dispossessed.

It’s a heart-warming story that is also honouring to the Lord, edifying and challenging. A literary work of art. And set in the Wild West! Who needs a movie?

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